In the stunning setting of the foothills of the Italian Alps in Piemonte sits this magnificent facility built from nothing by a group of believers from Italy and beyond over a period of 5years. But why build this wonderful facility at the end of the road leading over the Alps to France when you could have built it nearer an airport or a train station i hear you ask? (well maybe you didn’t ask but i am going to tell you anyway cos it is really interesting and inspiring!)
In the 12th century (at the same time as St.Francis of Assisi there lived in Lyons France a rich merchant called Pierre Valdo. As he was a good Christian he wanted to read his Bible even though most people could not at that time and also the Roman Catholic Church actively discouraged the private reading of the Bible, so he read the Bible and as he read he realised that the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church did not match what he was reading. Being rich he was able to make certain decisions and do certain things which others would not be able to do – so he used some of his wealth to get the Bible translated into the local French language and then he provided for his family and after this he gave away most of his wealth and decided to live a life of poverty, and practised reading the word of God every day. As he began to do this it changed people’s lives and many decided to join him and they became known as ‘the poor brothers of Lyons’. Of course the Church and many of those in power did not approve of this radical Christian lifestyle so the poor brothers of Lyon were eventually excommunicated from the Church and sent out of Lyon. To cut a long story very very short they eventually came to live in the valleys of Piemonte and these valleys became a battleground between the Catholic states and Church and the Waldensians (as they became known) for almost 3centuries. So much so that the valleys here are known as the Waldensian Velleys. After many years of state persecution and hundreds of martyrs for the right to believe the simple truth of the Bible the Waldensians gained the freedom to practice a different religion to that of the King and to this day the Waldensians have that right in Italy. The heart of the Waldensian struggle took place in the Valleys around Forterocca and indeed there is a site immediately behind the Forterocca centre where hundreds of martyrs were thrown from mountain tops rather than reject their right to follow Christ and read the Bible.
I have spoken about this before but Iwanted to bring the Forterocca Centre to your attention as we are at a crucial stage in its development and we value your prayers and encouragement in what God is doing here in the Valley. As we stand at the moment the next 4-6months are crucial for the survival of the centre. You may ask – well why is a centre so crucial, surely you can minister to the people of the Valleys without the Centre? Well that would be true if that was our only purpose in having the Centre but in fact we have been given an exciting vision of this place being used by the Lord to train and develop skills in those who want to go out and reach a lost world for Christ. As the Waldensians did those hundreds of years ago when they trained young men and sent them out all over Italy and beyond at peril of their lives so we also want to be able to train and develop men and women to reach a lost world.
What I would like you to do is to pray for this Centre that God would bring people here to work in the Centre and also that He will provide all the different funding that we need for the Centre to do hat He has in mind for it. We want t bless the local towns with the ministry that we can bring in sports clubs, English classes, support for young parents among other things while we also want to be able to take those who are ready to serve in reaching a lost world for Christ by giving their gifts and abilities sacrificially. If you want to know more then please send me an email and I can tell you a lot more about what we need and how you can help.